Higgs code be damned: Liberty boss wants say on his successor

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The Independent Online

Donald Gordon, the chairman of property company Liberty International and one of the most outspoken critics of the new corporate governance rules, is plotting one final dig at the Higgs code when he retires next year.

Donald Gordon, the chairman of property company Liberty International and one of the most outspoken critics of the new corporate governance rules, is plotting one final dig at the Higgs code when he retires next year.

The longest-standing FTSE 100 chairman plans to step down at Liberty before his 75th birthday on 24 June 2005. When he first announced his retirement, he said he would shun the City practice of appointing headhunters and lead the search for a successor himself.

But under the corporate governance rules, Mr Gordon is barred from getting involved, and he has been forced to take a back seat while his board searches for a new chairman

However, he has told board members that he will still have a say in the appointment of his successor - once he has retired.

Mr Gordon and his family own 21.35 per cent of Liberty. He has privately warned that if he doesn't agree with the choice of the new chairman, he will use the voting rights with his shares to reject the appointment when it is put to a vote at the first annual general meeting.

"Liberty means too much to Donny for him to just watch from the sidelines and just be a spectator," said one source close to Mr Gordon.

Four names have been linked with the future chairmanship of Liberty. The front-runner is Robin Buchanan, a director of Bain & Co, the management consultancy. The other leading contender is Patrick Burgess, a partner at law firm Jones Day Gouldens.

Michael Rapp, a shopping centre veteran, and David Bramson, a former partner at law firm Nabarro Nathanson, are also in the frame.

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